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2. Society
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Overview: Forging an Empire: Bismarckian Germany, 1866-1890   |   1. Demographic and Economic Development   |   2. Society   |   3. Culture   |   4. Religion, Education, Social Welfare   |   5. Politics I: Forging an Empire   |   6. Military and International Relations   |   7. Politics II: Parties and Political Mobilization

Gender-specific roles characterized almost every workplace environment, from street cleaning in Munich to domestic service in Berlin to factory labor in the Ruhr district (IM11, IM15, IM16, IM17). Gradually the campaign to increase educational opportunities for women gathered steam through vocational schools for women (D41, D42) and lobbying efforts to overcome conservative views about which occupations “suited” their abilities (D43, IM19, IM20). In this campaign, Hedwig Dohm stands out as having provided cogent and forceful arguments not only for more employment opportunities, but also for the female vote (D39, D40, IM19). At a time when the Social Democratic Party was suffering state repression, Clara Zetkin and August Bebel also wrote pioneering and no less passionate critiques of gender inequality (D44, D45, IM20, IM21). These writings and ideas were taken up in bourgeois reading circles and discussion groups and in meetings organized by female members of the Social Democratic Party (IM22). Other accounts describe the alleged sexual morals of working-class women (D36, D37), the effect of Socialist activities on working-class marriages (D38) and, further up the social scale, the types of family roles and leisure pursuits that were considered appropriate for bourgeois or aristocratic women (D55, IM23, IM24, IM25).

Further Reading: Society

Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat, Berkeley, 1990.

David Blackbourn and Geoff Eley, The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany, Oxford and New York, 1984.

David Blackbourn and Richard J. Evans, eds., The German Bourgeoisie: Essays on the Social History of the German Middle Class from the Late Eighteenth to the Early Twentieth Century, London and New York, 1991.

Richard Blanke, Prussian Poland in the German Empire (1871-1900), Boulder, Col., and New York, 1981.

Kathleen Canning, Languages of Labor and Gender: Female Factory Work in Germany, 1850-1914, Ithaca, 1996.

Barbara Franzoi, At the Very Least She Pays the Rent: Women and German Industrialization, Westport, Conn., 1985.

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